Monday, March 26, 2012

Steve and Christopher refreshes

Steve doing a good ground skimming flight...

The grey feet protruding from the shell of a very large mountain tortoise, pulled forward with a determined stride. In true Samaritan spirit we stopped. This guy was about to cross the N2! Thankfully another kind hearted gentleman who had the same idea, stopped, picked up the large tortoise and carried it across the road. You know people don’t look and drive over them - this guy would have rolled a car!

Steve, from the UK was most impressed. Christopher and I chuckled at the old hat idea of tortoises (amongst other things!) crossing the road in South Africa. I of course thought of that determined stride of the tortoise and how the sure forward pull relates to a hang gliding take off.

Christopher and Steve are doing some refresher training in the art of hang gliding. Today was their second day and our progress has been outstanding. A huge contributing factor was the sea mist – unpredicted but so very welcomed – that moved in to cool of the searing heat from the sun. We could continue our running and flights from the dunes. Conditions where really excellent and Steve kept on mentioning words like ‘brilliant’ or ‘perfect’ and actions like shaking the head with dumb struck smiles were very frequent. We even had a large pod of dolphins come by which just added to the flavour of the whole experience. Wilderness really is a top notch spot for learning (or refreshing!) your hang gliding skills.

Here are some pics of the training and also a video link of one of Christopher’s flights. He has been having trouble with landings. As you can see he has improved a lot.

This is Christopher preparing to launch...

Wish you were here!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Learning to hang glide - to be continued...

I printed a few pics for Ephert, you know, so he has some proof when he tells his school buddies of his flying adventures. (You know what kids can be like) Tracey flew back on Friday night due to the bad weather moving in – today it is cold, windy and rainy. Her progress has been very good. She is happy too with the start to her hang gliding career. Now we just wait for the next time she can grab a couple of days off work to continue with her training. I will get her blog link so you can hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. :) Read this...

Meantime I have created a face book profile for the school. Have a look for and please ‘like’ the link. :) I am trying to up the advertising exposure for the school so any hints and comments would be greatly appreciated.

Steve arrived last night. He is here from the UK to do some refresher training. Wilderness is just so perfect for this kind of thing. Tomorrow, the weather should be perfect once again.

This one of Tracey's last flights with me running along - just in case.

Till later!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 6 of hang gliding training - Ephert

I wonder if I need to say much about today? Here is a link of Tracey's flight today. :)

But I think I should mention a young boy named Ephert. I met Ephert a year or so ago on our Wilderness common. The friendly smiling face of this young man was easy to befriend and every time I landed in the park, Ephert would come racing along on his bike - his smile very visible from a long way away.

"Ek het oom gesien kom land!" he would say, out of breath but very excited and we would start to chat. Inevitably I promised Ephert that one day I would take him flying and gave him my number.

It turned out that Ephert was just a seasonal visitor, from upcountry - every holiday his family would come visit grandma and it was during these times that I would bump into Ephert. Of course just yesterday he text me, "Hallo oom. Dis Ephert. Ek is hier. Kan ons gaan vlieg?" (Hallo unlce. Its me Ephert. I'm here. Can we go fly?)

And so it happened that Ephert joined Tracey and me on the dunes this afternoon. Ephert went tandem with me plus he even flew solo down the dune - his light weight easily lifted by the big Condor training glider.

It was easy to see that this event made his day. But then again, for Tracey and I, he made our day too.

This is Ephert, lunging for the bar!

Wish you where here!

Ephert, flying solo all the way from the green dune in the background!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 5 in learning to hang glide

Today the wind did not play ball. It was strong and westerly for the most part and by late afternoon when the wind did turn up the slope it lost all its strength. Tracey and I sat under the glider talking hang gliding while enjoying the awesome views along the garden route coast. It really is a spectacular spot to learn this sport. Later we drove up to my powered hang gliding runway and it struck us both that this is the most beautiful place in the whole of South Africa – mountains, lakes and the ocean – the only place in the country where you find such a combination. And we live here.

Hhmmm… Awesome! You guys should come get some of this - as a fellow pilot said, hang gliding is not a sport, it is an art!

Tomorrow looks like it is going to be a peachy. And after the long theory day we can’t wait.

Wish you were here!


PS: Try this You tube video link for one of her flights.

Let me know if it works. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day four - learning to hang glide

“Flying a hang glider actually require some skill” It was so good to see Tracey discovering such a golden nugget of truth for herself. We have been laying foundations for three days – a lot of repetition and a bit of hard work but in the end so valuable and like today, so worth it. There is only one way to get the skill to fly a hang glider – practice. Something one can apply to everything in life but yet, with the art of flying it takes on an element of truth most often not encountered but trivial things. “The controls are so sensitive. If you don’t do the right thing she tells you your being an idiot!”


Today the real fun began. We had 28 short bunny hill flights as they say – each one sweeter than the other, each one closer to our goal of becoming a pilot of a hang glider. In the end I was far more tired than Tracey – this is what happens when you move into the flight realm as an instructor. To keep your students from harm you need run with them, being there every step of the way – not just for vocal support but also to catch a wing wire and keep the thing from flipping over and preventing expensive repairs to the glider and to the ego and confidence of students. Of course with the modern training gliders the flying speeds are right down and with a bit of a breeze it is not too hard to keep up. After the 28thrun down the dune let me tell you, it becomes an entirely different matter altogether! ;)

How high and how far will we go tomorrow? Stay tuned!

Tracey flying down the dune while I run(sprint!) along...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning to hang glide day 3

I do understand completely why some people refuse to own pools. This morning Dick and I spend a good hour trying to get rid of an air-lock in the pump system. It’s still there thus the reason for my comment. Of course the cure was to head out to the dunes for some hang gliding! :)

We had a late start. The pool and Tracey needing to catch up on some work issues (its Monday after all) saw us arriving at the Beach-hotel launch at around 14:30. It was on but I was not too convinced about it being strong enough for a tandem flight – the idea being to take Jane for a tandem first and then go to the beach for some training with Tracey. Richard “boom” had joined our flying party and of course he and Dick had already rigged and was keen to go. Just as I predicted, the wind dropped even more. Even so Jane and I waited on launch for 9 minutes before I called it quits - time to de-rig and head to the beach for some training with Tracey. Tracey of course helped with the rigging and de-rigging and all this was valuable experience.

Tracey and I running down the dunes.

Not too long after we were running down the dunes. Tracey’s progress has been slightly slow but still on par with what most other students end up with. The early days are the most difficult. It is physically demanding to run up and down a sand dune. Naturally I helped more than normal as I often do when the ladies learn to fly. :) We did 19 runs and the progress was great.

The ocean and views while training are unequaled.

Tracey said it was physically more demanding than she expected but that finally she is not comparing the sport to paragliding – it is much too different. Of course I under stand that completely and while she might not be the strongest lady in town there is nothing wrong with her spirit! ;)

Let see what the weather has in stall for us tomorrow – there is a bit of drizzle around.

Till later!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tracey King day 2

Tracey King

Drawing the curtains revealed a beautiful day - there was not a breath of wind while the sun warmed the early morning chill. I of course had no need to look out the window to know that it was a perfect day - I am a local and know what tomorrow will bring - but it was cool and the warmth of the sun was needed in my bedroom too. It was hard to believe that just yesterday it was so stormy. I knew too that today will be much different for Tracey in her start of her hang gliding career.

We headed out late after a lazy lunch. The southerly ridges were just soarable and a handful of danglers were sticking to the top of the cliff. Lower down on the beach there was very little wind, perhaps 5kph. This makes for the most demanding learning conditions for hang gliding. In the old days in fact, pilots would just not fly – the kites were smaller, less efficient and one needed to run too fast for comfort to get airborne safely. Sure if you can do it but as a beginner it is not what you want.

Dick flew the glider down to show us how – most impressive in the light conditions. Tracey fitted her harness and after I did a demo it was her turn. To her it seemed like the glider weighed a ton.

To be honest, in the strong wind of yesterday it was a battle to keep the glider on the ground. Today there was no wind to help lift the glider and this was her first attempt at no wind flying. I knew it was going to be hard.

Tracey with a good attacking run.

Up with the glider, run hard down the slope and flare! Presto! She did it. And after run 25 we had made huge progress in building some muscle memory to fly this heavy “beast”. Once Tracey shouted, a longing moan for her paraglider but, determined she got a grip, lifted the 20kg frame and bolted down the dune. Of course three strides and the wing was flying, taking its own weight. By 3:30 we got Jane into the harness and just ran with her down the hill. We fooled around for a few before both Dick and I were done with the running. It was 4 in the afternoon and it seemed appropriate to call it a day. We retired to Salinas for a cold one but not before Tracey and Dick went for a dip in the sea. We finished with a great braai while Tracey is coming to grips with the real secret in learning to fly a hang glider – patience!

Perhaps tomorrow we will go higher… Who knows!?

After a good run and flare.

Wish you where here!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tracey King Day 1

Even if the rain was falling in long hard wind blown streaks, the National airlines carrier landed safely. Tracey mentioned it was a very turbulent flight and since she is a qualified paraglider pilot I knew that that meant something. Driving back to Wilderness we spoke about her butterflies and whether that was a good thing or not. Indeed it is not everyday that one embarks on the adventure of learning to fly a hang glider.

Surprisingly this morning dawned bright and sunny. It was not to last though as the cold front had not done its rounds yet - pretty soon the heavens opened up again. We had plenty to do from a theory point of view and by lunch time had finished one of the required exams as well as our coffee quota for the day! After a short break I had her hanging in the simulator while we went through a couple of control movements. At this stage 6 inches of height above the ground was of course no concern and we sailed through the control concepts. Outside the rain had stopped but the wind was howling.

Tracey in the simulator...

By 4 I thought it worth a drive to the beach to have a look - you just never know. Of course as with all PG pilots, when it comes to strong wind, Tracey's eyes where wide. "Are we going to do anything in this wind!!!!??" On the way we bumped into Dick another hang glider pilot from Cape Town and he enthusiastically helped by being wing man. With newbies it was always very needed! Before long Tracey was up and flying. We had a couple of runs and all of it good practice. We even gave Jane, Dicks better half a turn and because she is such a light weight just kited her along the beach a foot or so above the ground. By 6 we were tired and called it a day but not before we popped in at Pomodoros for a great pizza and bottle of wine.

Good progress. What will tomorrow bring?

Tracey getting airborne..

Wish you were here!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tracey King learns to hang glide 1 - weather out look

Tracey is arriving at our little airport just after 7 tonight. Yesterday we had a cold front come through so it is raining today, all great for my empty water tank but not the best weather for starting hang gliding. Though I must say that it does look like we could open our wings by tom afternoon. For now my biggest concern is the weather for the arrival of our little national airlines tonight. Flights have been diverted to Cape Town in the past is the weather is particularly bad. Lets hold thumbs that this will not happen - we are praying for a slight clearing for a safe landing!